Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle

Saint Matthias
shown with the "lot" in his hand.
Lectionary: 564

I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.




It is no coincidence that the Feast of the Apostle Matthias falls the day before Pentecost. He is the thirteenth apostle, named to replace the deceased traitor Judas. Matthias' election fell during that interval between Jesus' Ascension and the Jewish feast of Pentecost. Whether May 14 falls within or outside the Easter season, it must be close to the two solemnities. 

I am intrigued today by Jesus' remarks about friendship from John 15. 
I have called you friends because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
That's what friends do; they tell everything to one another. They keep no secrets from each other. Indeed, their friendship is often characterized by their secrets. As a friend said to me recently, "What happened in  ___ remains in _ __!" I was very grateful for that remark.

Jesus reveals a most extraordinary secret to his friends, "...everything I have heard from my Father." What do we make of that? 

He cannot tell us when the world will end, because -- he says -- the Father has not revealed that to him. Perhaps that particular fact -- if it exists at all -- is not important. We don't need to know it and are better off without it. 

Rather, the "everything" Jesus refers to is the Holy Spirit. Our relationship in the Spirit to the Father and the Son is everything we need to "know". Jesus has clearly heard from his Father the Holy Spirit. We saw it descending upon him in the form of a dove; we saw him impelled into the wilderness and back into Galilee, and from there to Jerusalem and Calvary by the Holy Spirit. He has been raised in the Holy Spirit before our eyes, and carried off to glory. 

What more precious knowledge could we ask of God than to know the Holy Spirit? 

Anyone who reads the Bible should be familiar with that understanding of knowledge. Mary teaches us the first lesson when she says, "How can that be since I know not man?" Knowledge is a relationship; it is not a collection of facts. 

When we say we know someone, as my currently-favorite philosopher John Macmurray reminds us, we are either telling the truth or lying. Either I know that person or I don't. I may not have an encyclopedic knowledge of my friend, but if I know him, I know him! 

Likewise, we either know the Holy Spirit or we don't. Andrew Greeley once remarked, having faith is like being pregnant. You either are or aren't! 

As Christians, on this day before Pentecost, we pray that the Holy Spirit -- that great secret which Jesus reveals only to his friends -- might guide our thoughts, attitudes and decisions always. 

Come Holy Spirit!

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.